Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present

"Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

January 2017, a glorious winter’s day at the top of a mountain in the Alps with an amazing group of inspiring entrepreneurs, or “Snowhowers“, including Dr Rachel Morris, who had been so inspired by this phrase that she used this when she left the mountain as inspiration for her business, “Wild Monday“.

I love the phrase and the emphasis on simplicity and presence in and focus on each moment. Please take a few moments to read the poem, then read it again, then one more time, slowly, before reading the rest of this post.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

— Mary Oliver

So, what does this say to you? What are you reflecting on?

It is an anchor for me to both be present to every moment and also to live my purpose of #MakingPotentialPossible.

As to purpose, in June 2017 I moved to a new city (London) in effectively a new country to me, having lived overseas for over 27 years until this move. I chose to take this leap with care and consideration and at the same time with instinct and intention, to look to more fully realise my potential to serve this world.

Now, as I write this I am several months into this adventure and already find there is a voice in me that looks to play safe, and also looks to keep busy, as I know how to have a comfortable life through being busy and playing safe.

However, what is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? I have no plan, yet I have an intention to hold every moment as Wild and Precious so I will say no to the safe, I will not fill my diary indiscriminately.

As to Presence, I recently read “The Little Book of Ikigai” by Ken Mogi. Ikigai is from “Iki” (to live) and “gai” (reason). It is also about finding pleasure as well as meaning through such pillars of Ikigai as starting small and being in the here and now.

When people ask you how you are in a business context, have you ever replied: “busy”, to which they respond with pleased nods and “good”. Busyness has become something we all strive for, yet with this, we have so often lost our sense of presence.

Did you perhaps reflect on that when you read Mary Oliver’s poem three times? Or, instead, did you only read it once, despite my request to read it three times, or even skip reading it?

In the book, Mogi reflects on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie, or “one time, one encounter”, which originated with the Japanese tea ceremony.

Ichigo Ichie is the “appreciation of the ephemeral character of any encounters with people, things or events in life”, or, as my friend Morgan DaCosta puts it “no ordinary moments !”.

Mogi says: “Precisely because an encounter is ephemeral, it must be taken seriously”.

So, in our lives, how often over the years have we chosen to not be present to each moment, to laying in the grass and closely studying the grasshopper, rather than checking our phone or letting our mind wander to somewhere other than the here and now?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Also published on Medium.